Broadband Penetration Dips As Telecom Sector Loses Five Million Consumers In 2021


According to the latest subscription statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently, the December statistics, which completed the data for last year, showed that Nigeria ended 2021 with 195.5 million active telephone lines. The country began the year 2021 with 200.2 million telephone users.

This reveals that by the end of 2021, over 4.75 million telecommunications consumers were cut-off from their networks. It could be recalled that at the end of the preceding year, over eight million telephone lines were also disconnected from their networks in 2020.

Factors behind this trend have been identified to include the policy of enrolment, linking and verification of the National Identification Number (NIN) to Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards imposed by the Federal Government, weak consumer purchasing power and deteriorating Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). These challenges, combined with COVID-19, remarkably slackened subscribers’ capabilities in the last two years.

Tracking it month by month, the 200.2 million subscribers in January 2021 dropped to 196 million in February and further slid to 192.4 million in March 2021.

In the month of April, the figure dropped further to 188.7 million and 187 million in May. By June, the figure rose slightly to 187.6 million. In July 2021, NCC statistics revealed the number rose to 187.8 million and 189.3 million in August.

By the last quarter of 2021, the subscriptions experienced a twist, as more SIMs became activated. By September 2021, Nigeria had 190.8 million users. It moved to 191.9 million in October and by November, operators gained over two million users to peak at 193.2 million and 195.5 million by the end of the year.

Nigeria’s tele-density, which stood at 104.8 per cent as at the beginning of the year, dropped to 102.4 per cent by December 2021. Tele-density is the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area. It varies widely across the nations and also between urban and rural areas within a country.

Within the 12 months, both broadband and narrowband Internet services also went down. In 2021, Internet subscription via the narrowband dropped from 150.8 million in January to 141.6 million by December 2021. Broadband subscriptions also dropped from 81.9 million to 78 million within the same period.

In the month of December, MTN still retained its position as the largest operator in the country with 73.5 million users and 37.7 per cent market share, Globacom displaced Airtel to emerge second largest operator with 54.8 million users and 28 per cent share.

With 53.9 million subscribers and 27.4 per cent penetration, Airtel comes third, far ahead of 9mobile, which had 12.8 million users and 6.5 per cent market penetration.

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